Victor Oladipo doesn’t travel with Heat, but hope remains for return; Tyler Herro also to miss trip

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Victor Oladipo joined the Miami Heat on March 25. He hasn’t joined the team on a road trip since. And he won’t for this weekend’s games in Cleveland or Charlotte, either.

Out since April 8 due to what the team has been listing as knee pain, Oladipo remains an unknown as the Heat now move through the final nine games of their regular-season schedule.

“I can say he is making progress,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Friday’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena, ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Otherwise, as has been the team’s policy since Oladipo went out following an awkward landing on a dunk in the April 8 home victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the team remained tight lipped, declining to make Oladipo available Friday for interview.

“I don’t have a new update,” Spoelstra said.

Friday was the team’s first practice day at AmericanAirlines Arena since Oladipo was injured, but the team’s silence remained similar.

During the Heat’s first trip without Oladipo, Spoelstra confirmed that assistant coach Caron Butler had worked with Oladipo on the Heat’s practice court. Asked Friday if staffers continue to work with the impending free agent, Spoelstra said, “I do not have a new update for you.”

However, an NBA source close to Oladipo said Friday there is no current plan about shutting it down for the season.

For now, Oladipo remains a presence around teammates for pregame walkthroughs and other team activities.

“I think you just try to give a lot of positive energy,” veteran forward Andre Iguodala said of the team’s interactions with the 28-year-old guard. “Every guy wants to be out there playing, and injuries are part of the game. But at the same time, they can wear on you mentally, so just try to keep him in the right frame of mind, with your energy, with your presence.”

In addition to Oladipo, the Heat also announced that Tyler Herro did not make the trip, having missed four of the past six games with a sore right foot.

Herro last played in the April 23 road loss against the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat’s next game after the weekend’s two-game trip is Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena against the Dallas Mavericks, one of three home games remaining during the regular season.

Without Oladipo and Herro, it leaves Goran Dragic, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus as the only available reserve guards. Dragic has been held out of at least one night in two of the last three back-to-back sets.

Amid the backcourt absences, second-year Kendrick Nunn has stepped into the breach.

“There’s no question about it, he has quietly improved this year, and it’s really a credit to his commitment,” Spoelstra said. “He spends a lot of time working with the coaches, extra time before and after practice, a lot of time watching film. And then his experiences on the court, forced him, or allowed him, to grow.

“I think he’s making better reads versus different coverages. I think he’s able to understand when to be assertive, when to be aggressive, when we want him really looking at the rim and when the right read is to facilitate or to provide spacing. I think all of those things, he really has improved, when we need it.”

Even with the ongoing roster uncertainty, Spoelstra said he has a growing sense of comfort with his team amid these final stages of the playoff race.

“I actually feel pretty comfortable that we know our team, and we have a pretty clear blueprint of how we are successful, and what gets us into trouble,” he said. “Finding that consistency has been something that we’re continuing to work on. But I would say we know who we are.

“And we also see opportunity. These nine games are going to be extremely competitive. But it’s up in the air for virtually every team in the East now. And you have to compete, prove it on the court.”

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